Skip the deep fried Chinese takeout and make this healthier General Tso's Chicken at home in just 30 minutes using the air fryer! Crispy chicken bites are tossed in the most flavorful sweet and spicy sauce. Serve with my fluffy Sushi Rice or Chicken Fried Rice. Or, try my Air Fryer Orange Chicken for a less spicy, kid-friendly takeout dish.
📋 About the Recipe
- General Tso's is an easy chicken dinner to add to the collection of delicious, healthy takeout inspired dishes. Try my Air Fryer Orange Chicken, Air Fryer Almond Chicken, Chinese Chicken Dumplings, or Sweet and Sour Pineapple Chicken Meatballs too!
- Customize-able spice level! As is, this General Tso's sauce is spicy. If you prefer less heat, simply lower the amount of Gochujang red chili paste called for in the recipe.
- Easy air fryer or oven baked options!
For the Crispy Air Fryer Chicken
For the General Tso's Sauce
A few notes about the ingredients:
- Chicken - I use boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 2" cubes. I don't recommend cubing the chicken any smaller than 2" as smaller pieces will be more likely to dry out and over cook in the air fryer.
- Broth - I like to use low sodium chicken broth, but you can use any low sodium broth.
- Light brown sugar - I recommend using light brown sugar as opposed to dark brown sugar in this takeout chicken dish because it keeps the flavor lighter and less sweet. Dark brown sugar has twice as much molasses in it, hence the darker color, making it sweeter.
- Soy sauce - In keeping the overall sodium level of this Tso's chicken down, I use low sodium soy sauce. You can also use a low sodium tamari.
- Hoisin sauce - A common thick sauce-like condiment in Chinese cooking that's salty from fermented soybean paste, and slightly sweet from sweet potato and sugar. It adds great flavor to any stir fry, rice dish or glaze like this General Tso's sauce.
- Unseasoned rice vinegar (rice wine vinegar) - Adds the best tangy, acidic flavor to the General Tso's sauce. Be sure to use an unseasoned rice vinegar, as seasoned rice vinegars contain several added ingredients like sugar, MSG, salt, and more. Use a rice vinegar that only contains rice and water.
- Cornstarch - Essential for making crispy takeout style chicken at home, as well as a rich, thick sauce!
- Chili paste - I use Gochujang red chili paste to add the heat to my General Tso's sauce, but any red chili paste will do. This Korean chili paste can typically be found in the International section at large grocery stores or in Asian markets.
- Fresh ginger - Makes the sauce super fresh tasting, while adding a bit more tang! I recommend finely chopping it as opposed to grating, as grated ginger burns faster in the sauce.
- Add the cubed chicken breasts to a large bowl and coat with the cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Spray the air fryer basket with nonstick spray then add a single layer of coated chicken to the bottom. Spray the top of the chicken pieces with additional non stick spray, then air fry at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Repeat in batches until all chicken is cooked.
- Prepare the General Tso's sauce! In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, brown sugar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, unseasoned rice vinegar, Gochujang paste, cornstarch, and sesame oil.
- In a large skillet over low heat, pan fry the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in olive oil for 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
- Increase the heat to medium, pour in the sauce and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until slightly thickened. You know it's ready when the sauce will coat the back of a spoon.
- Once the Tso's sauce has thickened, add in the crispy air fried chicken pieces and toss to coat. Garnish the General Tso's chicken with sesame seeds, green onion and serve immediately with rice and broccoli.
⁉️ Substitutions and Alterations
- Boneless chicken thighs can be substituted for the recommended chicken breasts. If using chicken thighs, cut them to about the same size and cook for the same amount of time.
- I do not recommend substituting liquid sweeteners for the brown sugar as this would change the consistency of the sauce.
- For a less spicy General Tso's sauce, reduce the Gochujang paste to your tastes. You can also omit it altogether, but the sauce might have a slightly different flavor.
- Oven option: If you prefer to bake the General Tso's chicken in the oven, bake the chicken on a sheet pan at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Just make sure to spray the coated chicken with the nonstick spray to help it turn crispy. While it bakes, prepare the General Tso's sauce according to instructions.
❄️ How to Store
To store: This dish is best served fresh, but can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Freezing is not recommended as it would make the chicken soggy from the added moisture.
To reheat: Although it won't be as crispy, you can reheat General Tso's Chicken in the microwave until warmed through.
To get the best crisp on air fryer chicken, it is important to thoroughly coat in the cornstarch mixture and give the chicken enough space to crisp up in the air fryer.
If the air fryer basket is over crowded, the air will not be able to circulate properly and your chicken will not get nearly as crispy. Make sure to also spray the tops of the chicken in addition to the air fryer basket with non stick spray.
Yes! Air frying chicken as opposed to deep frying it is much healthier! When using an air fryer, air circulates around the food to make it evenly crispy on all sides without the need for excess oil.
No. It is important to air fry the chicken in a single layer to get the best crispiness. If you overcrowd the air fryer basket, your chicken will not get crispy and will create a soggy dish.
This recipe is made using fresh chicken, not frozen. Frozen chicken would require a much longer cook time and would also not crisp up well due to the additional moisture.
If you only have frozen on hand, make sure to fully defrost the chicken before cubing and air frying.
💭 One More Tip
Don't cut the chicken into too small of pieces or it will dry out when air frying. I recommend 2" cubes for the best, juicy General Tso's chicken!
🍴 Related Recipes
Share your cooking with me! If you make this recipe, I'd love to know! Tag @yourhomemadehealthy on Instagram or leave a comment with a rating and some feedback at the bottom of this page!
Air Fryer General Tso's Chicken
For the Air Fryer Chicken
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (around 2 ¼ pounds)
- ½ cup cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- nonstick spray
For the General Tso's Sauce
- ¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon gochujang chili paste less if you don't like a lot of spice
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (about 1-inch piece)
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- sesame seeds
- sliced green onions
- steamed broccoli
- Cube the chicken into 2-inch cubes. Don't cut them too small, as this will cause them to dry out in the air fryer.
- Add cubed chicken to a large mixing bowl. Top with cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Mix together to fully coat all sides of the chicken.
- Spray the air fryer basket or tray with nonstick spray. Add chicken in a single layer. Spray the tops of the chicken with more nonstick spray.
- Air fry at 400 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the outside of the chicken is golden brown and the inside reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked.
- Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients, besides the olive oil, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk thoroughly until it is smooth and there are no clumps of cornstarch remaining. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly so the garlic and ginger do not burn.
- Pour in the sauce, increase the heat to medium, and simmer for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Add the chicken to the skillet and fully coat it in the thickened sauce.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. Serve with a side of steamed broccoli and white or brown rice.
- Both hoisin sauce and gochujang can typically be found in the Asian foods aisle of your local grocery store. Hoisin is a thick brown sauce, often sold in a bottle, whereas gochujang is a bright red chili paste, often sold in a rectangular plastic container.
- Make sure you finely chop both the garlic and ginger. Grating them instead will cause them to stick and burn to the bottom of the skillet.
- To make general tso's chicken in the oven, follow the same instructions, making sure to spray the tops of the chicken with the nonstick spray. Then, bake the chicken on a sheet pan at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. While the chicken is in the oven, prepare the sauce. Once the chicken is done, either pour the sauce on top or place it in a bowl to coat.
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